Here's a tip: For those of you who might need some extra cash, don't try to rig a state lottery.
Or, if you do, at least attempt not to be as stupid as the characters in "Lucky Numbers."
John Travolta plays Russ Richards, a popular, egocentric weatherman at a local TV station in Harrisburg, Penn., who aspires to be a game show host with the fame and fortune of Dick Clark.
He adds to his wealth and local renown with a strip-mall snowmobile dealership, but the city experiences an unprecedented winter heat wave, and Richards finds himself unable to maintain his lavish weatherman lifestyle.
Enter Crystal Latroy (Lisa Kudrow), the girl who draws the lotto numbers for Richards' station, and Gig (Tim Roth), a strip club owner involved in all kinds of criminal activity.
The trio hatches an extensive scheme to rig the lottery involving asthmatic cousins and hit men, and while the crime goes as planned, the ensuing paranoia inevitably brings the whole operation down.
In this way, the plot isn't anything new, taking a page from last year's much better "A Simple Plan." However, the movie's darkly comedic twists and turns do keep the audience guessing until the end.
The film starts out very slowly, but perks up with Bill Pullman's first appearance as an inept Harrisburg police officer. His hilarious performance brightens the second half of the film and makes it much easier to stomach than the first.
Kudrow is also excellent as the sadistic Crystal and Michael Rappaport adds his deft comedic touch in his role as a hit man, even as the writing painfully falls short.
The writing, incidentally, is the film's worst quality. Variations on the same plot have been done many times before, but "Lucky Numbers" was on its way to an entirely new interpretation before the plot got off the track.
And while the film picks up a great deal of steam in the second half, leading up to the entertaining ending, the dialogue is ridiculous and unbelievable.
The talented cast is able to salvage plenty of laughs, but there are too many places where it's obvious the audience is supposed to laugh and doesn't.
"Lucky Numbers" tries very hard to win the audience over, but lacks the necessary charm and quirkiness that have made similar comic capers so endearing.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at email@example.com.